The article you really want to see – my review of Emirates First Class in the new private suites on the Boeing 777-300ER fleet – is on the way in a couple of days.
Before that, however, I need to run through my disappointing visit to the Emirates First Class lounge in Concourse B, which is the older part of Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3.
Emirates – website here – has an interesting approach to lounges at its home airport. In both Concourse B and the new A380-dedicated Concourse A, it follows the same pattern. The ground floor – one long, narrow space with gates on either side – is for shoppers and Economy passengers. The upper floors, which are basically a wide balcony looking down onto the main concourse, are for premium passengers.
In the new concourse, Business Class and First Class have totally separate floors. I reviewed that here.
In the older Concourse B, there is only one balcony level and it is split in two. Half is for Business Class and half is for First Class.
You might be able to see the problem here already. When your lounge is basically a mini-terminal in its own right, it doesn’t feel like a lounge. It feels like being in a quiet airport terminal!
It is hard to put the difference into words. Here’s an example – in most airport lounges, and certainly a First Class lounge, I wouldn’t think twice about leaving all my personal possessions on a table whilst I went off in search of refreshments or the loo. In the Emirates First Class Lounge, you don’t do that. Because it feels like a quiet airport instead of a lounge, and is so big, you react differently.
Getting to the Emirates First Class Lounge
Let’s go back a couple of hours. Until 1st March, you can still book an Emirates chauffeur car on a redemption ticket. My driver picked me up from the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights, reviewed here, at 6.30am for the short drive to the airport.
Business and First Class passengers use a totally separate entrance at Dubai International. You don’t mix with Economy passengers until you are on the concourse. Dubai International is so big, however, that the Business and First Class check-in area is bigger than most UK regional airports:
I didn’t need to get the train to the new concourse so was quickly walking past the shops to the escalators which took me up to the lounge complex.
Where you really can’t go wrong here is reading material. Take a look at this:
Quite a few English newspapers are printed in Dubai so even though it was only 3.30am UK time I could still get the current editions.
I hadn’t eaten in the hotel so decided to head to the restaurant. This was a curious mix of buffet and a la carte dining. The menu was extensive, with all of the cooked and fresh breakfast options you’d expect, but my eggs benedict suffered from being on a crispy biscuit. I also had a fruit platter.
This is the restaurant at 7.30am – it wasn’t hugely inspiring:
(I was on Concourse B because I was on a Boeing 777 instead of an A380, although some A380 flights also seem to use Concourse B. One downside of not being on an A380 was that we couldn’t board directly from the lounge level – the 777 isn’t high enough – so I had to take the escalator back down to the concourse.)
There are other food stations, including specific Mediterranean and Japanese ones, as you walk around the space. Here are a few random shots:
It was about as exciting as it looked. There is a small kids zone, but your kids need to be able to play video games:
Even the champagne bar could only offer Moet & Chandon, which is a bit odd given that Emirates serves Dom Perignon on board.
Whilst I was having a glass of champagne, someone came up and offered to shine my shoes for me. I thought he would do it whilst I sat there, potentially whilst wearing them, but he disappeared with them and returned 10 minutes later. He did a good job though …..
The First Class lounge has a Timeless Spa. Whilst I didn’t go in, I was entitled to a free 15 minute treatment – a back massage, leg and feet relaxation therapy, head massage, Thai body stretch or hand massage.
A lot of other treatments, including hair cuts and beard trimming, were available for around £30. I think there is an identical spa, without the free treatments, in the Business Class side of the lounge.
Emirates First Class Lounge conclusion
I like Emirates a lot, but the lounges don’t do it for me. Even the one at Heathrow has the feel of a Holiday Inn, with no dedicated First Class area, and is only redeemed by direct ‘lounge to plane’ boarding.
The First Class lounge in Concourse B just doesn’t cut it. With such a huge space, I’m not even sure there is much Emirates can do about it. With so many First Class passengers passing through, and one enormous open plan space, you are never going to feel cossetted.
Things were about to improve, however, as I boarded my plane to, erm, London Stansted ……
If you want a taster, Emirates has a section on its website dedicated to its new Boeing 777 First Class Suite which you can find here.
How to earn Emirates Skywards miles from UK credit cards (January 2021)
Emirates Skywards does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Emirates Skywards miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.